Peres and young girl 370.
(photo credit: Marc Neiman/GPO)
Because the upcoming festival of Shavuot is a harvest festival and one of three
pilgrim festivals during which in ancient times the Children of Israel brought
offerings to the Temple, the latter day celebration in Israel includes bringing
a first fruit offering to the President of the State.
Each year, farmers
from a different part of the country come to Jerusalem bearing not only the
seven Biblical species of olives, pomegranates, grapes, figs, wheat, barley and
dates, but also many other fruits and vegetables, including new strains that are
exported to foreign markets.
This year it was the turn of the
Megilot-Dead Sea Regional Council which brought not only its edible first
fruits, but also its human ones.
In recent years council chairman Motti
Dahaman, one of the founders of Kibbutz Kfar Shalom told President Shimon Peres,
there has been a 20 per cent population increase in the area, with many young
couples and young families opting to live in the region. "We now have a whole
new generation of desert population," he said, indicating some of the parents
who had come with babies in their arms in addition to the group of white clad
kindergarten children with garlands in their hair symbolizing two aspects of the
The white symbolizes purity, because Shavuot is the anniversary
of the giving of the Torah – the body of Jewish Law – to the Children of Israel.
Therefore it is customary on such a hallowed occasion to dress in white. It is
also customary to eat dairy products, not necessarily because milk, cream and
cream cheese are white, but because the gematria of halav, the Hebrew word for
milk is 40, which is the number of days that Moses spent on Mount Sinai before
receiving the Torah.
Dahaman told Peres that 40 per cent of the region's
income comes from farming and another 40 per cent from tourism. . The region is
particularly famous for its dates which are in high demand abroad.
the past year some two million visitors came to vacation or explore the region,
Peres who is extremely fond of young children, especially those
with inquisitive minds delighted in their company and held spontaneous
conversations with them. He also made a point of tickling every baby under the
chin or caressing its tiny fingers..
He told the kindergartners how much
he enjoyed their singing and dancing and said that he wanted to thank them from
the bottom of his heart for coming to Jerusalem and for the gifts that they had
brought him. "But the most important gifts you brought were yourselves," he
said, adding that all the children present were the products of wonderful
pioneering families "who took one of the most difficult places in the world and
turned it into something magic." Peres told the youngsters that they were
welcome to come to the residence at any time they wanted in the
Dahaman reminded Peres that many years ago, Peres during a tour
of the Dead Sea area had written a poem about Kalia, which is one of the most
scenically beautiful sections of the region. "That poem has always been an
inspiration to us," said Dahaman.